By Ziaur Rahman, New Age Islam
29 January, 2015
There is an unending debate in Islamic theological literature on whether or not the Quran supports mysticism/Sufism. Several Islamic scholars, particularly Wahhabi hardliners, say that the Quran does not support Sufism. In fact, they believe that the Sufism is anathema to Quran.
Iqbal went to the extreme extent and called Sufis herd of sheep that do not have any life or spirit and are a bunch of pessimists confined in their rooms only chanting the name and attributes of God.
However, there is another group of Islamic scholars who believe that Sufism is a legitimate expression of Islam and is supported by the Quran. Ibn-e-Arabi and Ahmad Sirhindi are two giant Islamic scholars who believe in Sufism as Islam, though they belong to two opposite Sufi philosophies – Wahdatul Wujud and Wahdatus Shuhud. However, without discussing the two philosophies, we find some simple and easy to understand verses in the Quran which clearly support Sufism or at least practices that come under the category of Sufism.
And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.(Al Kahf: 28)
This verse clearly asks people either to be patient and tolerant of those who are immersed in God’s remembrance from morning till evening (round the clock) and have the desire to have His countenance (deedar). People are also asked not see beyond them and not to seek worldly luxuries and comforts. They are asked to be with them (the sufis).
The practice of being immersed in God’s Remembrance Day in and day out is only of the sufis, who do not seek worldy comforts and wealth but their only desire is to have God’s countenance. The Sufis seek divine realisation of God’s being or union with God by deeply immersing themselves in meditation. Secondly, people are advised to be tolerant with them and have company of these God-loving and God-fearing people. It is better for people to be with such pious people than to be running after the luxuries and ordainments of life.
And those near Him are not prevented by arrogance from His worship, nor do they tire. They exalt [Him] night and day [and] do not slacken.(Al Anbya: 19-20)
This verse is about those people who do not disobey or rebel against God. They worship God day in and day out tirelessly. They chant his name continuously and do not show any sign of tiredness.
This verse is also about the sufis as it is only they who do not have any worldly attachment and their sole objective in life is to please God by obeying him all his ordainments and chanting his name tirelessly.
And remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with [complete] devotion.(Al Muzammil: 8)
This verse also asks people to chant God’s name continuously with complete devotion that is being detached from every worldly affiliation. Only Sufis possess this quality.
And mention the name of your Lord morning and evening(Ad Dahr:25)
That you [people] may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honor him and respect the Prophet and exalt Allah morning and afternoon.(Al Fath: 9)
The two verses quoted above also stress on the mention or chanting of the name of God, morning and evening. This is also the practice of the Sufis. They continuously chant the name of God apart from offering prayers during the day and in the night.
The word morning and evening may not mean only two times because there are certain verses in the Quran which clearly ask believers to remember God continuously and should not remain oblivious of God even for a moment. Not only that, people who forget the name of God even for a moment are warned of the mischief of Satan entering their heart.
Thus remembrance of God stressed in the verses quoted do not necessarily mean only routine remembrance but remembrance with complete devotion during every waking moment.
Therefore, it can be concluded from the study of these verses that the Quran is not opposed to Sufism as it is only a part of the spiritual teachings of the Quran and Muslims are advised to be in the company of the Sufis and be patient and tolerant with them instead of running after the worldly ordainments of life.